Susan always knew that after she retired she would be living an active lifestyle. She travels a lot and at 68 she’s been to over a dozen countries and is planning many more trips. On some days you’ll find her tackling a hiking trail with her grandkids, on others she will be volunteering at a local soup kitchen, and sometimes you will see her out enjoying the lake.
Doing and seeing new things is what Susan’s all about. But in the back of her mind, Susan is worried that cognitive decline or dementia could change all that.
When Susan’s mother was around her age she started exhibiting the first signs of cognitive decline. Over a 15 year period, Susan watched as the woman who had always taken care of her and loved her without condition struggled with what seemed to be simple tasks. She forgets random things. There eventually came a time when she frequently couldn’t recognize Susan anymore.
Having seen what her mother went through, Susan has always tried to stay healthy, eating a balanced diet and exercising. But she wonders, is this enough? Is there anything else she can do that’s been shown to delay cognitive decline and dementia?
The good news is, it is possible to prevent cognitive decline by doing a few things. Three of them are listed here.
1. Get Exercise
This one was already part of Susan’s day-to-day life. She does try to get the appropriate amount of exercise every day.
Lots of research supports the fact that people who do moderate exercise consistently as they age have a reduced risk for mental decline and dementia. They’ve also had a positive effect on people who are already encountering symptoms of cognitive decline.
Scientists believe that exercise may stave off mental decline for several really important reasons.
- As an individual gets older, the nervous system degenerates and consistent exercise can slow this. Without these nerves, the brain won’t know how to process memories, communicate with the body, or think about how to do things. Exercise slows this deterioration so researchers think that it could also slow mental decline.
- Exercise may enhance the production of neuroprotection factors. Your body has functions that protect certain types of cells from damage. These protectors might be produced at a higher rate in people who get an abundance of exercise.
- Exercise lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease. Nutrients and oxygen are carried to the brain by blood. Cells will die when cardiovascular disease blocks this flow of blood. By keeping the heart and vessels healthy, exercise may be able to slow down dementia.
2. Treat Vision Problems
The occurrence of mental decline was cut almost in half in people who had their cataracts removed according to an 18-year study carried out on 2000 people.
While this study concentrated on one common cause for loss of eyesight, this study supports the fact that preserving eyesight as you age is important for your cognitive health.
People frequently begin to isolate themselves from friends and withdraw from activities they love when they lose their eyesight at an older age. The link between dementia and social separation is the subject of other studies.
If you have cataracts, don’t just ignore them. You’ll be protecting yourself against the development of dementia if you do what you can to preserve healthy vision.
3. Get Hearing Aids
If you have neglected hearing loss, you may be on your way to mental decline. A hearing aid was given to 2000 participants by the same researchers that carried out the cataract research. They used the same techniques to test for the advance of mental decline.
The results were even more impressive. Cognitive decline was decreased by 75% in the people who received hearing aids. Put simply, whatever existing dementia they may have currently had was almost completely stopped in its tracks.
This has some likely reasons.
First is the social aspect. People tend to go into seclusion when they have untreated hearing loss because socializing with friends at restaurants and clubs becomes a challenge.
Additionally, a person gradually forgets how to hear when they start to lose their hearing. If the individual waits years to get a hearing aid, this degeneration advances into other parts of the brain.
Researchers have, in fact, utilized an MRI to compare the brains of individuals with untreated hearing loss to people who use a hearing aid. People who have neglected hearing loss actually have shrinking of the brain.
That’s definitely not good for your memory and mental abilities.
Ward off dementia by wearing your hearing aids if you have them. If you have hearing loss and are reluctant to get hearing aids, it’s time to schedule a visit with us. Find out how you can hear better with today’s technological advancements in hearing aids.